“Packing” a Punch: A smart company reduces the rage

By Becky Fowler

I’ve shopped online at Amazon.com for more than a decade and appreciate the positive difference I’ve seen in the last year or so in how items are packaged. This is no mistake; Amazon is on a quest to “make it easier for customers to liberate products from their packages.”  A few years ago, it seems, Jeff Bezos grew tired of emails from frustrated consumers who ranted about excessive packaging. Whether they annoyed by clamshells designed to deter shoplifters, boxes several times larger than necessary, or fighting through layers of bubble wrap (often to find a indestructible clamshell underneath), customers were communicating their “wrap rage.”

Rage is not a word any company wants to associate with its customer base, so the online retail giant seized the opportunity to reduce costs along with customer angst, introducing “frustration-free packaging” for 19 of its products in 2008. According to the New York Times, frustration-free products have earned on average a 73 percent reduction in negative feedback on the Amazon site. That’s a pretty significant improvement.

Despite the seemingly daunting task of convincing manufacturers to offer special packaging for online sales, Amazon’s “frustration-free” offerings have grown to more than 600 items currently. Philips is one of the most recent companies to design/offer special packaging for its Sonicare toothbrush after Amazon shared some disgruntled customers descriptions of fighting with the plastic package.

Amazon is not stopping there. The company continues to empower consumers to identify waste and inefficient packaging with its Packaging Feedback Program.  In addition to asking questions about how the product was protected and whether the box was sized appropriately, there’s a place for specific comments and complaints and even the opportunity to upload a photo. I have a feeling most of the photos added look a lot like those from the Stupid Shipping Gang.

Packing smarter saves resources and money – and it makes people opening the boxes a lot happier. Properly packaged consumer goods are less prone to damage and cost less to ship.  Smart packaging also helps reduce an overwhelming burden on our land and oceans. What do I mean? You should read this.

Reducing waste always makes good business sense. Listening to your customers doesn’t hurt either.

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